Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
by David Stanowski
27 May 2013
Tomorrow, (28 May, 11:00 am) the City Council could take a very dangerous step into making City government less transparent and more authoritarian, so they need to pull the plug before it goes any further.
At the end of last Thursday’s Council meeting, the City Attorney told the Mayor that she wanted to call a special meeting to “investigate” the activities that allowed the GCDN to obtain a copy of the Terry Morgan memo on Public Housing prepared for the City Council. In other words, she wants to pressure the GCDN into returning the memo and she wants to find and “punish” Deep Throat.
The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting is very chilling. It lists three action items:
1. Retrieving the memo from the GCDN. It is unclear why this is of any importance at this point, since the information has already been published, but this is a frontal assault on the First Amendment! What governmental power do they plan to bring to bear to try to reacquire the memo?
2. There is an apparent desire to alter the city code to give City government the authority to get court orders to retrieve leaked documents. Still another example of over reach.
3. Finally, there is a proposal to hire a law firm to act as Special Counsel to investigate how the memo was leaked, discover the identity of Deep Throat, and to pursue various forms of “punishment” against Deep Throat. We assume that hiring this law firm will cost at least $25,000, but that is hardly the worst aspect of this proposal.
This special meeting raises many serious questions:
1. Who is running City government; the City Attorney and the Mayor, or the City Council?
2. If the City Attorney works for the City Council, why is she telling the Council what to do?
3. If the Council is foolish enough to allow the City Attorney to hire a Special Counsel to investigate the leak, do they have any idea how far the Special Counsel might go?
4. Will the Special Counsel want to put the City Council and City staff under oath and depose them? Are they going to need to hire lawyers?
5. Will the Special Counsel investigate the City Council and City staff without obtaining warrants?
6. Will the Special Counsel investigate every member of the City Council, or just the ones that City Attorney and the Mayor suspect?
7. Which members of the City staff will be investigated?
8. How do we know that Deep Throat was on the memo distribution list; he/she could have stolen it or obtained it, from someone who was on the list?
9. Will the Special Counsel use a lie detector on Councilmembers and City staff?
10. Will the Special Counsel use “enhanced interrogation techniques” like water boarding?
11. If the Special Counsel discovers the identity of Deep Throat, will he/she be sent to Guantanamo for further interrogation?
In short, the reaction of the City Attorney and the Mayor to the leak is quite Orwellian, and City Council needs to shut down this nonsense before it goes any further.